Jessica Smarsch's Connextyle Looks to Improve Physical Therapy with Designer Wearable Sensors

Soft, designer sensors built on Fraunhofer IZM's TexPCB platform could help improve physical therapy for patients.

The Connextyle clothing looks to improve physical therapy through wearable sensors. (πŸ“·: Lisa Klappe)

Designer Jessica Smarsch has unveiled smart clothing designed for physical rehabilitation, built around a wearable electronics platform from Fraunhofer IZM dubbed TexPCBs.

"The Connextyle techstyle is the future of fabric," Smarsch boldly claims of the project. "It is inspired by the need for data feedback in rehabilitation, and an empathetic approach to wearable technologies. The interior of the Connextyle techstyle sleeve uses Fraunhofer IZM's TexPCB technology. The design of the Connextyle TexPCBs are specific for the needs of rehabilitation, collecting and transmitting muscle activity."

"Connextyle works from the inside-out with sensors laminated inside the sleeves. Connextyle's two-layered design separates the technical sleeves from its accompanying cotton shirt. Patients can be comfortable and naturally wear Connextyle all day long. A small procesing module connects data from the muscles, registers movement, and wirelessly transmits the collected data via Bluetooth."

According to Designboom, which drew our attention to the project, Smarsch's inspiration was an effort to assist stroke patients to receive tailored physical therapy to assist them with regaining mobility in their upper body. The data captured from the sensor can be used both for customising the therapy and as a means of tracking progress, Smarsch explains.

Smarsch positions the Connextyle designs as "techstyle," though its cyberpunk aesthetic is only partially functional: While a prototype which bonds the circuitry to transparent yarn to show it off has been developed, it lacks the flexibility and stretch that would be required for the sensors to work reliably.

More information is available on Smarsch's website.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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